Every player is looking for a way to separate himself from the pack. Some can do that by their performance on the field. Not all can, however. Is there a biblical way to distinguish yourself as a player, as a coach, and to help others do the same? You and I will all be known for something. Is your performance as a player or coach enough for you, or would you rather people know you for something deeper?

That “something deeper” is highlighted in Proverbs 20:11.

“Even a young man is known (distinguished) by his actions—if his behavior is pure and upright.”

Pure and upright behavior is the most biblical way to be distinguished, known, and to separate yourself from the pack.

Players, this has to be a choice you make…to pursue such godly character more than you pursue on-the-field production.

Coaches, you’re either going to build players who you hope will be decent men, or you’re going to build great men you’re also trying to turn into great players.

Here are three ways to strive for character over talent. 

1. Express the greatest pride over effort and endurance.

You’re either going to harp on results or on process. Not everyone will have immediate results (some will never see them), but anyone and everyone can maximize their effort and endurance during the process. As anyone with any life experience will tell you, results can sometimes lie. Sometimes, poor effort and endurance and still produce good results, simply based on innate talent. Other times, great effort and endurance fail to produce the desired results, for a variety of reasons. This is true in baseball and more true in life. As a coach, parent, or teammate, it’s up to you to consistently reinforce that the process of effort and endurance is paramount. Players who learn to rely only on talent find a rude awakening when one day that’s not enough for a marriage, parenting, or a job.

2. Refuse to evaluate who a person is by how they perform.

Let’s be honest. We believe more of what someone says if they are talented. It’s the reason why networks hire formerly great players to be analysts. We truly believe that a talented person automatically is an expert. Over and over, we judge the character and wisdom of people based on one thing: their performance. What if you stopped doing that? Seriously. What if you concerned yourself as a player more with your character than your performance? What if, as a coach, you concerned yourself more with evaluating character than just talent? How would that change the rest of your life? The lives of the young people you coach? What if you no longer overlooked character flaws because someone is good at the game? What if?

3. Reward what you want to be repeated.

What gets rewarded gets repeated. End of story. If your team is full of knuckleheads who have no discipline and character, it’s because that behavior has been rewarded, either directly or indirectly (perhaps by ignoring it). If you want your teammates or the guys you coach to have greater character, get creative on rewarding and reinforcing it. Say something. Give something. Display something. Do something to reward what you want to be repeated.

Lord Jesus, help me to distinguish myself not by my performance, but by my character and godly actions. Remind me of what is pure and right and help me to live in it. Mold and shape my character to be like yours. Amen